Posts Tagged ‘Jean Behra’

Reg Hunt #5 and Guerino Bertocchi #7 in Maserati 250F’s prior to Saturday practice, Albert Park, Australian Grand Prix, 1 December 1956…

Hunt looks pretty happy with himself whilst Maserati’s legendary tester/mechanic Bertocchi wonders if everything is AOK with the Moss ‘#2501’. To the left of Hunt’s car is Tom Sulman’s Aston DB3S.

James Lineham had a fantastic day at the ‘Park, the sun shone making it ideal for spectators, especially those with cameras. He used his expensive colour film wisely in the paddock, his camera wasn’t sophisticated, so best to take snaps of stationary or near stationary cars. Then he shot off some monochrome action work whilst he walked Albert Parks huge expanse.

Bib Stillwell’s Jag XKD perhaps, on Lakeside Drive looking to the south of Albert Park Lake

James life spanned 1925 to 1997, he was a young enthusiast aged 31 when he attended this meeting. After his death his wife very carefully went through all of his precious belongings, found these photographs and kindly donated them to the State Library of Victoria for enthusiasts like you and i to see, in 2014. Clearly, there are many donations of this type, it has taken four years for James snaps to be catalogued and uploaded onto the SLV’s website- I found them on a regular search I do every few months.

Lets thank James and Catherine Lineham for the photos. Blurry though some of them are, they ooze atmosphere of a weekend spoken about in reverential terms by those fortunate enough to have attended. One of the journalists of the day, I’ve forgotten who, wrote of the weekend as ‘when Australian Motor Racing came of age’- it was an important one in our racing history.

Moss or Behra Maser 300S on the pit or main straight, Aughtie Drive. Race direction these days the other direction, or clockwise

I’m obsessed with a few circuits in Australia in particular- Warwick Farm, Mount Panorama, Longford, Lobethal and Albert Park- Longford and the ‘Park especially. I live in Windsor 750 metres from Albert Park’s Austin Healey Corner/Turn 13, the Union Street/Queens Road second gear right-hander.

I run around it every other day, I think about the fellows who conquered it’s oh-so-quick unguarded challenges in the fifties and do so in much more safety today. I feel its wonderful rhythm, vibe and its sense of history all the time. These snaps gimme that vibe, Albert Park is a wonderful place to be even at 5.15am with only the park’s Daffy Ducks as company!

I was going to package the shots with some other photos I’ve accumulated of that weekend but somehow that didn’t seem the right thing to do. So here is ‘James Lineham’s day at the races’ with some shortish comments about each car/driver. In the event one of you knew James get in touch and I will pop a brief bio into this piece.

Vrrooom in a 6 cylinder 3 litre DOHC kinda way. Moss Maser 300S. Aughtie Drive from the Olympic Tyres Bridge

Attached are links to articles already written about this carnival motor racing fortnight during the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games which ‘put Melbourne, if not Australia on the map’.

In fact James had a big choice that day. He could have taken a vantage point on the Mens Marathon course from Clayton to the Melbourne Cricket Ground via Dandenong Road- Algerian born Frenchman Alain Mimoun won it in 2:25.00 from Franjo Mihalic of Yugoslavia a minute and a half behind him.

The Australian Tourist Trophy;

https://primotipo.com/2016/01/29/1956-australian-tourist-trophy-albert-park/

And Australian Grand Prix

https://primotipo.com/2016/12/27/moss-at-albert-park/

The short story of the race is that Stirling Moss won the 80 lap, 250 mile journey on 2 December 1956 by a lap from teammate Jean Behra, Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo, Reg Hunt’s Maser 250F and Stan Jones similar machine. It was a dominant display from the plucky Brit who was always, and still is immensely popular when he visits Australia.

International representation included the two works Officine Maserati drivers Moss and Behra (#1 above) who brought no less than five Masers with them. They shipped three 250F’s, two of the latest specification and an earlier chassis and two 300S sportscars both of which remained in Australia post event. The cars were based at Reg Hunt’s Holden Dealership just up St Kilda Road on the Nepean Highway in Elsternwick a few kms from the circuit, the 300S’ being famously driven between workshop and racetrack.

Prince Bira and Jean Behra in the Albert Park paddock (S Landrigan)

Jean did not have a great year being comprehensively bested by one of the most gifted drivers in the world, but third places at Buenos Aires, Monaco, Reims, Silverstone and at the Nurburgring is hardly shabby. Over the two weekend Australian carnival it was Moss winning both the AGP and the Australian Tourist Trophy the weekend before.

Moss raced #7 250F chassis ‘2501’ and Behra #1 ‘2522’. The spare car ‘2507’ was driven by both Moss and Hunt during practice and at one point it was thought Jack Brabham may race it, not having an AGP ride that year, but it was not to be. A pity, by that stage Jack had two seasons of racing in Europe behind him so would have given all but Moss and Behra a good go.

Scuderia Ambrosiana entered two Ferrari 555 Super Squalo’s powered by 3.4 litre ‘860’ Monza four cylinder engines, remember that the AGP at this time was run to Formula Libre rules.

The cars (above) were driven by #2 Reg Parnell ‘FL9002’ and #3 Peter Whitehead ‘FL9001’. Whitehead was a regular to Australia dealing with the family wool business and had won the Australian Grand Prix way back in 1938 aboard his ERA R10B- then he was 24 and in 1956 he was 42 years of age.

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/16/peter-whitehead-in-australia-era-r10b-1938/

Whitehead started the carnival well winning the ‘Bryson Industries Cup’ support event to the Australian Tourist Trophy the week before, ahead of Hunt and Kevin Neal, Maserati A6GCM.

Whitehead and Parnell were unlikely to be on the pace of the works Masers but would be good bets as best of the rest, as indeed they were- Peter was third and Reg sixth. The Parnell car remained in Australia, click here to read about it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/

Car #9 in the background of the photo above is Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, Alberto Ascari’s 1952/3 dual World F1 Championship winning chassis ‘#0005’- iconic in Australia and winner of the 1957 and 1958 AGP’s at Caversham and Bathurst respectively. The 3 litre car, which then carried chassis number ‘#0480’ was 7th, 5 laps behind Moss with various problems

Ken Wharton (car above) was a well credentialled Brit in both single-seaters and sportscars, but his ‘Ecurie Du Puy’ (John Du Puy was an American resident in Switzerland) silver Maserati 250F was said to be, and looked tired.

Chassis ‘#2521’ had been Behra’s works machine, a new car that season, in eight events earlier in ’56 before being sold to Du Puy. But it really looked ‘in need of a birthday’ before leaving Europe, it was the latest bit of kit, properly prepared the car was a top three contender.

Ken retired the car on lap 19 and then journeyed on to race the Maserati and his Ferrari Monza in New Zealand that summer, unfortunately dying in a tragic accident aboard the Monza on 12 January 1957 at Ardmore during the NZ GP weekend.

The best prepared and equipped of the locals were the well heeled Victorians- motor dealers Reg Hunt and Stan Jones in Maserati 250F’s of similar specification and ‘cobbler’ Lex Davison, who owned a shoe manufacturing and distribution business.

Lex’ Ferrari was older than the 250F’s but was quick with its 3 litre engine and beautifully prepared by Alan Ashton at AF Hollins motor engineers just up the road in Armadale. In fact all three of these cars lived close to the circuit. Hunt was fourth, best of the locals, Jones was fifth and Davison seventh.

Doug Whiteford was another local- very, his dealership/workshop was in Carlisle Street St Kilda, a drop-kick from Albert Park. Whiteford’s first Talbot-Lago T26C, chassis ‘#110007’ was an astute purchase, the robust, simple design was well suited to Australian events. It was beautifully prepared and driven by ‘Dicer Doug’ who won two of his three AGP’s in it- at Bathurst in 1952 and at Albert Park in 1953. Click here for a piece on Doug’s TL’s;

https://primotipo.com/2015/06/09/fill-her-up-matey-lago-talbot-t26c-melbourne-1957/

The purchase of the second T26C (photo above) wasn’t quite so smart though. An earlier chassis ‘#110002’ but later spec mechanically than ‘#110007’ sounded ok but the game in Oz had moved on- he needed something more modern and competitive.

Whiteford was a consistent third in the ’55 AGP at Port Wakefield behind Brabham and Hunt but by ’56 it was simply not on the pace. Still, his bankroll was more modest at the top level than most. A shame, as Doug, 42 then and as vastly experienced and tough as they come didn’t give a yard to any of the locals. Whiteford in a 250F or something of that performance envelope would have been worth travelling a few miles to see. Its a shame he bought a 300S off Maserati after this meeting rather than a 250F.

Reg Hunt made everybody take notice in his ‘Flying Bedstead’ Hunt JAP Spl in hillclimbs and on the circuits in the late forties/early fifties and then refined his craft with a season racing a 500 F3 Cooper machine in the UK in 1954.

On his way back to Oz he acquired a superb Maserati 250F engined Maserati A6GCM chassis ‘#2038’ (above with Kevin Neal at the wheel) with which he belted the locals in 1955.

Only mechanical failure kept him from the ’55 AGP won by Jack Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol. Hunt ordered a 250F for ’56, he was allocated a rebuilt 1955 works machine chassis ‘2516’ with Melbourne haulier Kevin Neal- who had also raced an ex-Hunt Cooper T53 Bristol the purchaser of the A6GCM.

Neal had a shocker of an AGP bending the car severely and injuring himself late in the race when he lost the car in the greasy conditions. I wrote a long feature about the A6GCM not long ago;

https://primotipo.com/2017/12/12/hunts-gp-maser-a6gcm-2038/

Lineham’s colour photos show fine taste and focus on the single-seaters- but who can fault his choice of Stan Coffey’s Ferrari 750 Monza sportscar (below) for his final colour snap. He raced the car in the Australian TT the weekend before, DNF in the classic won by Moss from Behra and Ken Wharton’s Ferrari Monza.

Its a rare, clear shot of the man, now whatever became of him? There is an obscure article topic, he raced a few interesting cars too, Cooper Bristol etc…

Bibliography…

 8W.forix.com on Maser 250F chassis numbers, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credit…

James Lineham- State Library of Victoria, Simon Landrigan

Tailpiece: Oopsie, not quite, snapped too soon! Its the i dunno Maser 250F…

Easy i thought its #2 but that’s Reg Parnell’s Ferrari 555- the car is a 250F. Which one though? Not Moss, Behra, Hunt, Jones or Wharton all of which/whom are eliminated by virtue of number, colour or nose treatment. Hmm. Maybe its the works spare ‘2507’ carrying what looks like #2 whilst either Moss or Hunt did a few laps. Anyway that’s my story, but i’ll entertain other theories.

Finito…

 

 

 

 

 

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Tony Brooks powers his Ferrari Dino 246 out of the Avus hairpin during his victorious German Grand Prix drive, 2 August 1959…

The 1959 event was held at the ‘Automobil Verkehrs und Ubungs-Strasse’ (AVUS) track in Berlin rather than its Nurburgring ‘home’. The vastly quick, banked track was tailor made for the Ferrari Dino 246 which had more power than the Cooper brigade, but considerably less handling. The recent partitioning of Berlin meant that a new south loop was added to the facility which dated back to the 1920’s.

Brooks arrived full of optimism, he had won on the super fast Reims road course on 5 July several weeks before. The Ferrari’s were right on the pace with Brooks taking pole from Moss’ Cooper T51 with Dan Gurney 3rd  in another Dino. Due to fears of tyre wear the race was run in two heats, Brooks won both of them. The minor placings also went Ferrari’s way to Gurney and Phil Hill.

The weekend is also famous as a consequence of Hans Hermanns survival of one of the most spectacular GP accidents ever. His BRM P25’s brakes failed on lap 35 of 70, the car hit hay bales and was launched into a series of somersaults with Hans thrown clear and escaping serious injury. He was a very lucky boy.

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Tony Brooks Dino ahead of Masten Gregory’s Cooper T51 Climax, the much under-rated Kansas driver qualified 5th but was out on lap 23 with engine failure (unattributed)

The meeting was overshadowed by Jean Behra’s death in a supporting sportscar race, the little Frenchman died instantly after spinning his Porsche RSK and hitting a flagpole in mid-air. Jean’s 1959 season I covered in an article, click on the link at the end of this piece to read it.

Portugal…

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Tony Brooks pre practice at Monsanto Park, Portugal, Tony 9th (Klemantaski)

Brooks looking relaxed before the Portuguese GP at Monsanto, Lisbon. The 23 August race was won by Moss from Masten Gregory, both in Cooper T51 Climaxes, Gurney was the best placed Ferrari in 3rd with Brooks 9th- about where a good front engined car could expect to finish as the mid-engined paradigm shift gathered pace.

Credit…

Louis Klemantasi

Tailpiece: Three Ferrari 246’s in a Monsanto Park row- Dan Gurney, Phil Hill and Tony Brooks steeds await their intrepid pilots…

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(Klemantaski)

 

 

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(Yves Debraine)

Jean Behra portrait taken by Yves Debraine in 1959, the year in which he died at the wheel of a Porsche RSK at Avus…

Not an article about this great and perhaps underrated driver but rather some 1959 snippets.

The shot below is of Behra at the wheel of the works Ferrari 250TR59 at Brunnchen, the Nurburgring on 7 June 1959. He and Tony Brooks were 3rd in the race won by Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman in an Aston Martin DBR1.

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(Klemantaski Collection)

The great Frenchman switched from BRM to Ferrari in 1959, he started the year well winning the non-championship ‘BARC 200’ at Aintree, one of three non-champ events in the UK before the first F1 title events commenced at Monaco in May.

‘BARC 200’ Aintree on 18 April

In an encouraging start to the season Jean won the race from teammate Tony Brooks and Bruce McLaren’s works Cooper T45 Climax.

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Monaco Grand Prix…

At the tiny principality Jean (below) was both a driver and entrant, he had built a Porsche RSK based F2 car which he entered for Maria de Filippis.

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Despite her best efforts she couldn’t qualify the car amongst the mixed grid of F1 and F2 cars. In a sign of the times, and Porsche’s commitment to open-wheelers the factory built and entered their own car which was raced by Taffy Von Trips until a collision with Cliff Allison in an F2 Ferrari Dino.

The car, based on a new RSK had a tubular chassis built by Valerio Colotti (then of Maserati and later of transmission fame) which picked up the original front and rear suspension. The machine followed the general principles of the donor with track and wheelbase the same. The driver was placed centrally of course, the 4 cam spyder engine, gearbox, battery ignition, dynamo starter were all retained.

Colotti’s neat aluminium body was beautifully formed, the result low, streamlined and small given the cars underpinnings. DSJ’s Motorsport report of the event likened it to the Sacha-Gordini of several years before. The circa 150bhp F2 car proved to be prodigiously fast. Hans Hermann raced it for Behra at the Reims GP on 5 July finishing 2nd only to Stirling Moss’ Rob Walker Cooper T45 Borgward…in the process beating the factory Porsches of Von Trips and Bonnier and Allison’s Ferrari 156 much to the consternation of the Maranello management.

Click here for further details on this interesting car;  https://revsinstitute.org/the-collection/1958-porsche-behra-formula-ii/

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The shot above is de Filippis in Behra’s Porsche Spl during Monaco practice, the lines of Colotti’s car sleek and low.

Below the field blasts off at the start, Behra in the middle is first away in the snub-nosed Dino from Moss on the left and Brabham on the right in Cooper T51 Climaxes, Rob Walker’s for Stirling and the works car for Jack, the latter on the way to his first GP win.

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(unattributed)

Further back is #48 Phil Hill’s Dino 4th, #50 Tony Brooks 2nd placed Dino and Jo Bonnier #18 in the first of the BRM P25’s DNF.

The photo below shows Stirling Moss chasing Behra’s Ferrari, the Frenchman led the race until Stirling got past on lap 21 and then Brabham, after the Ferrari had engine failure on lap 22. Jack went on to take his first championship win.

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Moss, Cooper T51 Climax chasing Behra Ferrari Dino early in the race (unattributed)

Sportscars…

Jean contested 4 of the World Sportscar championship events from March to June in the Ferrari TR250, his best results 2nd at Sebring with Cliff Allison and 3rd at the Nurburgring with Tony Brooks. The latter combination failed to finish Targa and at Le Mans Jean and Dan Gurney were out on lap 129 with gearbox problems.

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Behra during the 21 March 1959 Sebring 12 Hours, he was 2nd in this Ferrari 250 TR/59, the winning car the sister entry driven by Gurney/Daigh/Hill/Gendebien (TEN)

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Talking to co-driver Tony Brooks during the Targa weekend on 24 May, the winner was Barth/Seidel Porsche 718 RSK, the factory cars all DNF (unattributed)

Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, and 1959…

Behra’s Ferrari Dino 246 being fettled in the Zandvoort paddock, cars were entered for him, Cliff Allison and Phil Hill qualifying 4th, 8th and 12th respectively with Bonnier’s BRM P25 on pole. His promise in practice was fulfilled in the race with the first championship win for the Bourne concern.

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(Inside the motorsport paddock)

Behra below chasing Stirling Moss’ Cooper T45, he qualified 4th and finished in the same position, Brabham and Gregory were 2nd and 3rd underlying the performance of the 2.5 Coopers on a course which required a blend of power and handling.

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Behra chasing Moss, the lines of the ’59 Dino about as good as a front engined GP car got? (Cahier)

French GP…

Onto Reims, Jean’s home race of course where things totally unravelled.

In a year in which the mid-engined revolution took hold, full 2.5 litre FPF Coventry Climax engines made clear the performance advantage of the Coopers, Ferrari only had an advantage on the faster courses of which Reims was one.

Some reports have it that Behra, a handy mechanic with great mechanical sympathy was over driving and abusing his engines in the final months of his life in his efforts to remain competitive.

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Beautiful Reims first lap, 5 July 1959. Brooks winning Dino from Jack’s Cooper T51 3rd, #26 Hill’s Dino 2nd #10 Gregory’s Cooper T51 DNF, #2 Moss’ BRM P25 and McLaren’s Cooper T51 5th then the rest strung out thru Champagne country (unattributed)

 

 

Brooks was on pole with Phil Hill 3rd on the grid, Jean was on the 2nd row. Tony Brooks Ferrari 246 convincingly won the race in a great display of high speed precision driving in an event made incredibly demanding due to heat and stones thrown up by cars as the tracks surface suffered.

Jean qualified 5th and raced hard, having been left on the line, he made a lunge for 2nd on lap 25, but spun and dropped back to 4th. He equalled the lap record set by Trintignant on lap 28, he was racing for a hometown win after all, only for the cars engine to cry ‘enough’ on lap 29, he was out with piston failure.

The only member of the Scuderia driver line-up that year that didn’t speak English, fired up after the race, he had a ‘spirited’ exchange with team manager Romolo Tavoni. Tavoni glanced at the cars rev counter ‘tell tale’ in the pits and began, very unwisely, his driver full of adrenalin, to remonstrate with him about one-too-many over-rev and subsequent engine failure. The stocky Frenchman thumped him, knocking him over with one punch. Inevitably and predictably Jean was ‘shown the Maranello door’ giving Dan Gurney a Ferrari opportunity he took full advantage of.

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Behra hustling his Dino hard, too hard perhaps, at Reims during the ’59 French GP (unattributed)

Ferrari missed the following GeePee at Aintree with industrial strikes in Italy but returned to the fray at Avus for the 2 August German GP.

Jean made contact with Raymond Mays to return to the BRM team there, but there was not the time or resources to make available a P25.

Jean therefore entered and qualified the 1.5 litre F2 Behra Porsche (pictured above) 16th of 17 cars but didn’t take the start of the GP after crashing, in the wet at over 100mph in a Porsche RSK in a support race. He died instantly in the awful accident in which he was flung from the car, hit a flagpole on the bankings outer extremity and then dropped into the outfield below.

A bright, charismatic light was extinguished.

Credits…

Yves Debraine, Louis Klemantaski, Cahier Archive, The Enthusiast Network, MotorSport June 1959/March 1998

Tailpiece: Le Mans 20-21 June 1959. Behra at the wheel of the car he shred with Dan Gurney DNF with gearbox problems on lap 129…

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This race famously won by the Shelby/Salvadori Aston Martin DBR1, none of the factory TR’s finished the race (unattributed)

 

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Stirling Moss cruises his ‘works’ Maserati 300S #3059 through the Albert Park paddock prior to winning the Australian Tourist Trophy on 25 November 1956, he repeated the dose in a 250F in the following weekends Australian Grand Prix…

One of the wonderful things about this internet thingy is the number of unseen photos of our sport which pop up from time to time giving people like me something to write about. And so it is that Sharaz Jek recently posted photos his father took as a ‘paying punter’ at the Australian Grand Prix Carnival at Albert Park held during the Olympic Games.

It would have been more considerate had he posted them six months ago when i first wrote about the two Maser sportscars brought to Australia as part of a 5 car team by Officine Maserati!. But hey, it gives me a chance to write about the ATT specifically, click here to read the earlier article, i won’t repeat the background or destiny of the two 300S’ which stayed in Oz post event;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

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Melbourne in 1956…

I wasn’t born in 1956 but its fair to say i was more than a twinkle in my parents eyes, so i didn’t attend the mid-fifties Albert Park meetings which older enthusiasts speak so fondly about. Running around the lake last weekend i reflected on how little Albert Park had changed but also how much Melbourne had, the skyline of the city a short 2 Km away.

In 1956 Melbourne’s population was circa 1.5 million people, now its 4.7 million, the war ended only a decade before and with it successive Australian Governments established an aggressive migration program which provided and continues to provide us with the wonderful, peaceful mix of people and their cultures which makes this such a special country and city in which to live. Disgraceful offshore detention centres notwithstanding!

The ’56 Olympic Games, held from 22 November to 8 December was an important part of opening our society to other cultures and equally allowed us to showcase our country, city and capabilities to the world.

The same can be said about the 1956 Albert Park International race meetings and their impact on Australian motor-racing; Barry Green in his wonderful book ‘Albert Park: Glory Days’ said;

‘The weekend was the proverbial moment which changed the face of motor racing in this country. Here for the first time we had a current works sports car and F1 team and other leading international drivers in ex-factory cars; their presence prompting the best of the locals to upgrade their machinery, spend even more and charge harder. A world class field deserved a world class venue and world class crowd. And in the picturesque Albert Park and thousands of international visitors filling Melbourne to overflowing for the first Olympic Games to be held south of the equator, it had just that’.

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So, to put you in the zone of the times before reading this piece i have added some photos of Melbourne in 1956 to give you the ‘feel of the joint’ and flavour of the times six decades ago, the racing stuff is after that if you wish to ‘cut to the chase’…

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The ‘Eyetalians’ brought their weird steaming coffee making machines with ’em post-war, the local coffee obsession was underway, school below is Melbourne High in South Yarra

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TV was introduced to Australia in the lead up to the games, here some locals are sussing the weird new contraption in the window of ‘Myers’ department store in Bourke Street

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‘Sultry beauty Gunhild Larking, 20, Sweden’s entry for the high jump pensively awaiting her turn to compete’ is the caption. A post sporting career in modelling or TV awaits d’yer reckon!?

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The first weekend of the two week AGP carnival comprised four events, the feature the Australian Tourist Trophy for Sports Cars was held on 25 November…

A convoy of Maserati mechanics drove the 250F and 300S, the 5km from Australian International and 250F driver Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick Holden Dealership, where the cars were maintained each day to Albert Park, on the Nepean Highway and St Kilda Road. Not too much of a problem then but guaranteed to boil a Maserati 300S sans radiator fan these days!

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Behra and Moss @ Albert Park in 1956, the first and only time, sadly, Behra raced here but Moss was an annual, usually victorious visitor to Oz till the end of his career in the Masers, then Rob Walker entered Coopers and Loti (Graham Hoinville)

Most of the drivers stayed close by in the ‘Espy’, the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, it’s still there if you want a ‘bevvy’ during the AGP carnival and is well known to Australians as the home of the ‘RocKwiz’ music quiz show.

Fitzroy Street St Kilda felt exotic and buzzed with thousands of visitors from all over the world eager to explore the local delights of the bayside suburbs restaurants and bars. They were full of people including recent European migrants eager to get a touch of home for a few hours at least. The Espy and Tolarno’s were ‘chockers’ and no doubt the proprietors of the areas ‘red light’ precinct did good trade.

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Guerino Bertocchi, Maserati chief mechanic and factory test driver and his helper start the 5 Km journey from Albert Park to Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick Holden dealership where the team were based (Arnold Terdich)

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Maserati’s as far as the eye can see! Masers brought 5 cars to Oz, 3 250F’s (one unraced spare which at one stage looked as tho it may have been raced by Brabham but ’twas not to be) and 2 300S, Reg Hunt Motors, Nepean Highway, Elsternwick (Eileen Richards)

In ’57 the factory 300S’ were campaigned by Moss, Behra and Piero Taruffi taking wins at Silverstone, Nassau, the Nurburgring, Rouen and Buenos Aires; the works allocated # 3055 to Behra and # 3059, the ‘featured car’ here to Moss. Stirling was in sparkling form having won the Venezuelan Grand Prix in Caracas a fortnight before arriving in Melbourne, Behra also contested the race.

There was a strong entry for the ATT of around 36 cars; Peter Whitehead returned to Australia hoping to repeat the success of his 1938 tour which culminated in an ERA Bathurst Australian Grand Prix win for him.

His entry in the ATT was a Ferrari Monza, similar cars were entered by Brit Peter Wharton and local motor dealer Stan Coffey. The Whitehead and Wharton Ferrari’s were garaged at AP Hollins in Malvern where Lex Davison’s mechanic/engineer Alan Ashton, well familiar with 4 cylinder Ferrari’s (Davison raced the ex-Ascari Tipo 500/625) could keep a close eye on them.

Lex, already the winner of one of his four AGP’s in 1954, entered his HWM Jaguar, his Ferrari was raced in the AGP won by Moss’ 250F the following weekend.

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Stan Coffey’s Ferrari 750 Monza, of earlier vintage than those of Wharton and Whitehead but still quick if tricky to drive (John Blanden)

Jaguar D Types were entered for Kew motor dealer and later multiple Australian Gold Star champion Bib Stillwell and Queensland’s Bill Pitt driving the Mrs Anderson owned car.

Jack Brabham returned from Europe where he was establishing a strong reputation to drive a Cooper T39 ‘Bobtail’ Climax with future Gold Star Champion Bill Patterson, another Melbourne, Ringwood, Ford dealer in a similar car.

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Jack refuels the Cooper T39 in the Albert Park paddock. ‘COR’ is Commonwealth Oil Refineries soon to be BP (John Blanden)

Veteran Tom Sulman raced his ‘Kangaroo Stable’ Aston Martin DB3S, the quicker entries rounded out by Austin Healey 100S’ for multiple AGP winner Doug Whiteford and Ron Phillips.

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Moss positions his Maser on the front row of the ATT grid, Behra started on pole. Such a sexy shape . Properties on Canterbury Road near the Mills Street corner in the distance (Sharaz Jek)

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Behra’s 300S gets the jump at the start, thats Whitehead’s Monza at left, Moss 300S slightly behind, the Jag is Stillwell’s D at left and the little car on the far right Brabham’s Cooper T39 (John Blanden)

A fantastic crowd of 150,000 people gathered to watch the days racing which was marred by the critical injury and subsequent death of Peter Catlin in the first race of the day after he lost control of his Bugatti at Melford corner.

This dominated the tabloids coverage of the race but ‘The Argus’ noted Moss’ lap record of 1:55.8 ‘set in a sportscar, the record previously held by a racing car’ and ‘one of the finest exhibitions of race driving seen in Melbourne’.

To the surprise of many Behra put his car on pole and lead from the start of the 100 mile race with Patterson flipping his Cooper at Melford Corner without too much damage to him or the car on the first lap.

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Behra hard on the brakes in pursuit of Moss. Maser 300S (Philip Skelton)

Behra lead the other 35 competitors at the end of lap 1 from Moss, Stillwell’s D Type, the  two Monza’s of Wharton and Whitehead, Brabham’s Cooper T39, Bill Pitt’s D type and Paul England’s beautifully designed Ausca. The car was built by England in his spare time at Repco, was powered by the first Holden/Repco Hi-Power cylinder head engine.

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Pitt’s Jag D chasing Jim Leech’s MM Holden Spl with the Ron Phillips Austin Healey 100S behind (unattributed)

On lap 2 Moss gave his French teammate a blast on his Masers ‘Fiamms’ at Jaguar Corner to let him through, and an even bigger one when he did so, team orders not new in motor racing!

At the front Wharton and Brabham slipped past Stillwell with Bill Pitt getting progressively quicker in his XKD and closer to the shapely tail of Whitehead’s Monza.

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Brabham wringing the little Cooper T39’s Climax engine hard! (John Blanden)

Moss had a lead of 20 seconds from Behra, Stillwell spun giving Pitt ‘a sniff’ at him as Moss set fastest lap on the 27th tour and passing lots of slower traffic in the process.

By the race’s end only Jean Behra was on the same lap as Moss, the Brit took the flag from Behra, Wharton, Pitt a great 4th and first local home, Stillwell, Whitehead, Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar and Kiwi Ross Jenson in an Austin Healey 100S and the rest.

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Moss exits Jaguar corner in his 300S complete with accumulated hay from bales disturbed by other errant competitors during the race’ 100 miles, in the cars inlet (Graham Hoinville)

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‘Motori Porno’ innit!? Plug change, 12 of them for Moss’ twin plug #3059. Twin distributors, big Weber 45DCO3 carbs of the 2992cc circa 280 bhp 6 cylinder, DOHC 2 valve engine all clear (Sharaz Jek)

Other ATT Meeting Photos…

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Albert Park vista #20 the Phillips Austin Healey 100S (unattributed)

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Another start shot, row 3 this time with the 2 D Types of Stillwell and Bill Pitt (right) in shot, thats Sulman’s Aston DB3S on the far right (unattributed)

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Phillip’s 8th placed pretty Austin Healey 100S, great run for the Melburnian in a model very popular in Oz, sadly most have now left our shores (unattributed)

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Stan Coffey’s Ferrari 750 Monza behind its Holden FE towcar. I always thought Stan was a Ford dealer? (Sharaz Jek)

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Moss passing and thanking with a wave MG T driver Newman for his track etiquette (Arnold Terdich)

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Ken Wharton’s races his Ferrari 750 Monza to 3rd place. Southern Command Army buildings in the background. He raced this car in NZ that summer and sadly died in it at Ardmore on 12 January 1957 (John Blanden)

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Bib Stillwell’s ‘XKD520’, the seventh D Type Jag built appropriately going thru Jag Corner. An important step in the later Australian Champs rise thru the ranks, he raced it in ’56 to early ’57 , then progressed to Hunt’s 250F (autopics.com)

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Another paddock vista which again has ‘COR’ Commonwealth Oil Refineries in shot, clearly the firms PR function was working well! the Phillips Healey 100S and a Porsche Speedster in shot (unattributed)

Etcetera…

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Fifties circuit conceptually similar to but not identical to the contemporary one, direction of racing opposite to the present (Barry Green)

Bibliography…

Barry Green ‘Albert Park: Glory Years’

Photo Credits…

Sharaz Jek especially for the shots which inspired the article

Getty Images for all of the Melbourne ‘atmo’ 1956 shots

Arnold Terdich, Eileen Richards, John Blanden, Philip Skelton, Graham Hoinville, autopics.com

Tailpiece: She is MY daughter Stirl don’t even think about it!…

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(Sharaz Jek)

Finito…

duck

(Jesse Alexander)

Alfonso de Portago practices his Ferrari 625 prior to the 1955 Pau Grand Prix, a race won by Jean Behra’s factory Maser 250F…

These superb images are from the Jesse Alexander Archive. The factory Maserati’s of #14 Behra, #16 Roberto Mieres and #18 Luigi Musso are in line astern in the Pau paddock, Saturday 10 April 1955.

pau

(Jesse Alexander)

Jean won the race from Eugenio Castellotti in a Lancia D50 and teammate Roberto Mieres in third. de Portago was 8th and the best placed Ferrari, no factory cars were entered by the Scuderia after a poor showing at Turin a fortnight before.

Ascari had the race in hand after a great dice with Behra early but with 20 laps to go had braking problems, the Lancia mechanics did a work around which gave him brakes on the front and allowed him to finish, Jean taking a lucky win.

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Eugenio’s Lancia being warmed up by the team, you can feel the staccato-blast of that lovely basso-profundo 2.5 litre V8!? (Jesse Alexander)

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The nose of Lancia Team Leader Alberto Ascari’s Lancia D50. Pau 1955, he was 5th. Alberto died only 6weeks later at Monza in a tragic testing accident. (Jesse Alexander)

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(Jesse Alexander)

No sign of the admiring duck this time but again its de Portago in his Ferrari, not sure who it is behind, factory Ferrari GP drives would come his way in time.

Sensational shots of a great track, and thankfully still in use.

Photo Credits…

Jesse Alexander Archive, http://www.jessealexander.com

 

Reims 1958

Jesse Alexanders’ great shot from the rear of the Reims grid, French Grand Prix July 1958…

Down ze back its the #24 Lotus 16 of Graham Hill to the left,  #30 Maser 250F of American Troy Ruttman to the right and at the rear the Lotus 12 Climax driven by Cliff Allison. The race was won by Mike Hawthorn in a Ferrari Dino 246 from Moss in a Vanwall and Von Trips in another Dino.

Very sadly this was the race in which Luigi Musso lost his life, chasing teammate and championship rival Hawthorn through the flat out Muizon corner he lost control at 150mph, crashed and died later from injuries sustained in the accident.

cliff allison french gp 1958 lotus 12

Allisons’ Lotus 12 amongst the Champagne-Ardenne fields, i wonder what that crop is!? The 12 was built as an F2 contender originally  but quickly evolved into a GP car, Lotus’ first, as the capacity of the Coventry Climax FPF engine progressively edged its way towards 2.5 litres. (Unattributed)

Reims 1958 panorama

Gerino Gerini Maser 250F 9th, Jean Behra BRM P25 DNF, Stirling Moss Vanwall, 2nd and Francisco Godia-Sales Maser 250F DNF French GP 1958. (unattributed)

Behra and Collins French GP 1958

Peter Collins Ferrari Dino 246 5th and Jean Behra BRM P25 DNF start of French GP 1958. (unattributed)

Ferrari Dinos' French GP 1958

Ferraris’ Dino 246 X 3 French GP 1958; #4 Hawthorn, ill fated #2 Musso and #6 Von Trips. (unattributed)

Fangio French GP 1958 Maser 250F

Juan Fangio finished 4th is his last grand prix in the ‘Piccolo’ lightweight Maserati 250F, car now past its prime. (unattributed)

Photo Credit…

Jesse Alexander Archive